Sharing scientific knowledge and on-farm
experiences was the aim of a recent GRDC
Soil Biology Initiative II (SBI-II) tour
through Western Australia’s grainbelt.
SBI-II researchers from across Australia
met more than 60 WA growers and advisers
from Geraldton to Ravensthorpe to gain
insights into the factors driving on-farm
soil biology decisions and how soil
biology fits into a whole-farm context.
Local growers were able to glean the
latest information about the GRDC’s soil
biology investments and research results
as part of this 2000-kilometre round trip.
Associate Professor Pauline Mele, of
the SBI-II and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, says collaboration between scientists and growers is vital to exchange ideas, observations and concerns about soil biology.
“Hot topics arising during the tour included: non-wetting soils and the role of soil biota in improvements; carbon storage and loss; and the impacts of pesticides and fertilisers on the resilience of soils,” she says.
“Practices such as spading, mouldboard ploughing and growing summer crops were also discussed in terms of the potential impacts on soil biota.
“A clear outcome from the tour was that on-farm systems research, guided by regional questions, is a formula worth considering for future investments.”
The main investment streams of the SBI-II are: monitoring soils using a web-based tool (www.soilquality.org.au); the potential to manipulate nutrient release from different soil fractions based on break crops; and plant residue quality and the potential to build disease-suppressive soils.
(From left) The GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Network’s Sally Thompson, Dr Martin Blumenthal, Associate Professor Annie McNeill, Dr Helen Hayden, Dr Graham Stirling, Dr Shahajahan Miyan, Associate Professor Pauline Mele and Professor Daniel Murphy on a recent Soil Biology Initiative II tour of Western Australia.
PHOTO: Sally Thompson
Associate Professor Pauline Mele
03 9032 7083
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